Thursday, March 19, 2009

Needle exchange bill sails through Senate, headed to House

Having written earlier that it was possible to count 23 votes in the Texas Senate for a local-control bill authorizing needle exchange, I'm pleased but unsurprised to see Sen. Robert Deuell's SB 188 pass the Senate on a 23-7 vote. Writes Noelle at Sifting the Haystack:
While laying out the bill Senator Deuell said that if this legislation becomes law it will save the state money without costing the state any money, and that countless studies have shown syringe exchange programs do not increase drug use.

Senator Wentworth pointed out that Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed, who blocked full implementation of the pilot syringe exchange program that passed last session, has advised his office that if this bill passes she will not prosecute people participating in the programs.

To watch the Senate consideration and vote on CSSB 188 visit the Senate RealMedia Video Archives page, scroll down and click on the March 18 Senate Session, and skip ahead to 2:07:20 into the video.
Sifting the Haystack also points to an op ed in the Abilene Reporter News supporting the legislation. The bill does not require local governments to operate a needle exchange program, and likely most won't, but for the big urban areas it makes sense, both to save lives and health care costs.

The House voted for a pilot program in San Antonio last session by a wide margin, so the bill has a decent chance of passing both chambers if the new committee chair in House Public Health will consent to give it a vote.

The biggest obstacle may be Governor Perry, who reportedly opposes the legislation despite significant small-government conservative backing for the measure - 11 of the 18 Republicans voting on the measure in the Senate supported the bill.


Anonymous said...

Good, it is refreshing to see hat the Texas Lege actually looks at something for what it is , instead of the argument of doom and gloom.

The problem with the doom and gloom attitude is that it discounts those that are NOT using currently that will NOT use in the future.

Everyone doesn't smoke, although it is completely legal, everyone doesn't drink, and that is legal as well. The truth of the matter is this gives those that are using the opportunity NOT to die from HIV/AIDS and will hopefully allow them to clean themselves up at a later time.

TxBluesMan said...

While I don't have a problem with the bill, if they don't get it in front of the Gov in time to override a veto, it could very well be a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

When a smoker has a cigarette but no matches or lighter he will borrow one from a fellow smoker. If that fellow smoker has just used his own last match, the desperate smoker may attempt to use one cigarette to light the other.

So if a drug addict has some heroin but not a needle of course he is going to borrow a syringe from his fellow drug addict!

Just imagine there are preventable diseases spread by borrowing another person’s matches and this is a program to give free matches in hopes of slowing the spread of those illnesses.

It’s not like giving out heroin to school children.

Anonymous said...

Reasonable minds can differ. So, remember the bill is discretionary and get off your pedestal when some communities choose not to have needle exchanges. For a similar discretionary issue, see the cite and release bill. Such bills get passed by announcing it is just optional. Then, the communities that opt out get criticized. Hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

This is stupid. I don't want to provide clean needles much less a spoon to anyone on my dollar. Period.

TxBluesMan said...

Anon 6:30,

This doesn't mean that the needle exchange program will use tax dollars, it just means that a group can be allowed to do it with local funds (i.e., a charity group, etc.)

A local government can fund it if they want to, but they are not required to.

It basically just stops those in the program from being prosecuted.